Jess Cavalari (T/he/y)

Doctoral Candidate
Jess and a very good dog

Contact Information

Smith 103C
Office Hours
Fridays 11 - 12


M.A., History, Northern Arizona University, 2018
B.A., History, State University of New York, New Paltz, 2014
A.A., Orange County Community College, 2012

I'm interested in histories of disease, medicine, and public health and environmental history in Latin America and the Caribbean. My MA thesis examined English privateers as creators and circulators of scientific knowledge about the natural world between 1680 and 1720. My first research project at the PhD level took a digital historical approach to the study of the prescription records of a British colonial doctor working in Nevis in the 1880s, illuminating the global circulation of tropical medicaments and the micro politics of colonial public health in the Caribbean.

My dissertation research is focused on the colonial history of Panamá. I am studying the colonial roads that were integral to the imperial networks of the Spanish American empire-- the Camino de Cruces and the Camino Real. Prior to the canal of the 20th century and the railroad of the 19th century, the Caminos were the backbone of Panamanian economy from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. The transportation network, or trajín, that connected the Spanish imperial networks of the Pacific and Atlantic worlds depended on the operation of an elaborate mule train industry that drew on the labor, expertise, and resources of people across Central America. My dissertation probes into the ways in which the skilled labor of enslaved Africans in managing the mule trains were fundamental to the Spanish imperial system in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Specifically, I am interested in the muletero's ability to maintain 'health on the road' for both humans and non-humans, non-human agency, and the management of colonial infrastructure projects.